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UN Rights Body Launches New Inquiry Into Syria


UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon accuses President Bashar al-Assad of failing to fulfill a pledge to end a crackdown on protesters.
The UN Human Rights Council has launched an international investigation into alleged violations committed during Syria's crackdown on antigovernment protesters.

At a meeting in Geneva on August 23, the council voted 33 in favor to four against to "urgently dispatch an independent international commission of inquiry to investigate violations of international human rights law in Syria" in recent weeks.

Nine of the countries in the 47-member council abstained in the vote on the resolution, which was presented by the European Union, the United States, and Arab countries.

China and Russia led the opposition against the measure, saying it was one-sided and politicized. Cuba and Ecuador also voted against the resolution.

Syrian Ambassador Fayssal al-Namwi called it unbalanced.

The Human Rights Council had called an emergency meeting on the situation in Syria after UN investigators in a report last week said widespread and systemic rights violations had been committed by President Bashar al-Assad's regime since antigovernment protests began in mid-March.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay told the opening session of the council meeting in Geneva on August 22 that more than 2,200 people have died in the crackdown.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has criticized Assad for failing to halt the crackdown. Ban said Assad had recently pledged to him that all military and security operations would end.

compiled from agency reports